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Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Plans...

My plans are really pretty simple. From simplicity. Voluntary simplicity (heard that one here before?).

My personal "enough" has been ignored over the past several months. I know that stress does that to me. And 2006, while wonderful in many ways, was stressful.

So Enough. Here we go. New Plans, New Goals.

1. Aim for health - and all the "resolutions" that go with that: eating better, exercising more, destressing more.
2. Moving for health - and in this, I don't mean exercise - Literally a new, healthy environment without smoke. And weeding out "stuff" in the process!
3. Buy less, save more. And, um, yes, that means destash the yarn. (Fabrics do not qualify, as they are not stash, they are business inventory.) I have some of the most gorgeous yarn...and I'm a slow knitter. If I couldn't buy more yarn for 2 years, I'd still have enough to use up...(lolol!) But I don't include sock yarn. That's exempt. (A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...)

In all things, it will be quality over quantity. Holding fast to my personal definition of "enough."

If not now, when?
I think I deserve it.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Last year I bought myself a very special original piece of art and I want to share it with you....(the photo just doesn't do it justice, you know?)

If you'd like something by this artist (NAYY), you can see her work here. Everything she does is wonderful - be it Siamese cats, greyhounds, or even Ragdolls (should I tell Wendy and Lucy?). Her title for the piece above was "I brought my own."

May you get caught under the mistletoe with your own very special person this year.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Eve's Eve...

On Knitnana I was sharing my foot-dragging about decorating for the holidays the other day. I did finally succumb and put up a very little tree and a wreath on the door.

But until I visited my sister-in-law over the weekend, I'd completely forgotten this little tree, which I love.

For years, I wanted a little tabletop ceramic tree. I never wanted to take a ceramics class to get one, however. A couple of years ago, DD discovered this one at a flea market and gave it to me for Christmas. Unlike most of the trees I see with little "lights" on them, this tree has little birds that the light shines through. I adore it.

So it, and the gifts for my big sister's family, adorn my dining room. I guess I'm having more Christmas this year than I'd planned.

Today is my eldest grandson's birthday. This is the first year I've not been able to be with him to celebrate - they've moved too many miles away...and it's so hard to have a birthday right before Christmas.

His dad calls him "Tater." This is a much younger photo of him...

Dearest little Tater...Happy Birthday! I miss you so much! I hope you had the best birthday of your life! Your Nana loves you.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Reading? Well, These Days, Rarely...

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Literate Good Citizen
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

From my dear friend Christie who's answer is quite appropriate to her, I was sitting and wondering why it didn't ask about knitting in line at the post office or what socks I brought to knit on the plane...I do read, just not the way I used to when I was indeed just a step or two away from that Ph.D., but these days, it's one book, now usually a novel, and I read over weeks, not hours. Knitting and sewing have replaced reading, mainly for two reasons, my eyesight, and my income!

But compulsive about my hobbies? Well, now THAT I am...
Thanks for a fun quiz, Christie!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Merry Christmas to Me

Ok. I hope this works. I've tried everything I can think of to eliminate the cigarette smoke from my space. I still have a little trick or two up my sleeve. But tonight, I bought my Christmas present to me: a Whirlpool Whispure 450. Not inexpensive by any means, but when it's your livelihood at stake, you make trade-offs.
Not to mention your life.
I've managed to keep fans blowing out slightly opened windows, but the end of this week, it's supposed to turn COLD. I can't keep that up all winter. So this little baby, which is supposed to work miracles, if the reviews at Consumer Reports and on the internet are to be believed, has come home to make my life healthier.
Keep your fingers crossed?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Teabird's Aspirational MEME

An aspirational meme
(picked up from Melanie and I thought it fit nicely on this blog...)

What part of the past would you bring back if you possibly could?
My mother. I would spend the years I lived with her as an adult and as her friend once again and forever. I miss her dearly. We did everything together and had so much fun!

What character trait would you alter if you could?
My chatterbox syndrome...I can talk you to death. I can talk the walls to death. I think best aloud, so I run off at the mouth constantly. Don't get behind me in the grocery will be amazed!

Which skill would you like to have the time and energy to really work on?
Organization, of my work/living space.

Are you money poor, love poor, time poor, or freedom poor?
Energy poor, I'll ditto Melanie, and add in money poor, which will cause a draught of energy. Because the funding issues are a challenge, I am also time poor, because I have so many money-earning projects going it's hard to find time for quiet relaxation, which also contributes to being energy poor.

What element of your partner's character would you alter if you could?
MFMPPF is inclined to put everyone else in his life ahead of himself. While I value his sense of loyalty and desire to support those he loves, I'd like to see him value his own feelings enough to come first on his own list.

What three things are you going to do next year that you've been meaning to do for ages but never got around to? Organize my closets to accommodate stash yarn and fabrics as well as my clothes! Knit a gossamer lace scarf/shawl. Two new products for Nana Sadie Rose ('s a secret!)

If your fairy godmother gave you three wishes, what would you wish for?
Health, a secure retirement, MFMPPF to feel he deserves to be happy (preferably with me in the picture, long-term!).

What one thing would you change about your living conditions?
A home without health risks imposed by other people (like downstairs neighbors who smoke!)

How could the quality of your free time be improved?
By having more of it at a longer stretch...

What change have you made to your life recently that you're most proud of?
I still count "recently" to include 3 years ago when I quit smoking. Oh, and that Nana Sadie Rose thing...too!

If anyone decides to tag herself, please share -

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Time to Turn Inward...

Today I cleaned up the balcony garden (yes, sometimes things get away from me, and this one did!). Yesterday was 75 degrees. Today is 48. But the sun is bright. And it was time to clear away the deadwood and make way for the quietude of winter.

First, tho', will come the lights and fun of the holidays, and of course, Nana Sadie Rose is busy busy busy putting the finishing touches on Christmas orders, and preparing for the last of the craft shows before the Winter Holiday gift-giving season commences.

But more and more, I'm finding myself wending inward. Closing up windows, closing inward with emotions, shutting down early, as darkness falls sooner and sooner...

I'm having a struggle here. A new neighbor has moved in below me. She is a heavy smoker. Those of you who know me, know that I struggled to quit smoking and have been very successful in staying quit these last few years. After my heart attack and by-pass surgery, and now with Lupus and the lung issues associated with that, the protection of my heart & lung health is one of my major priorities. My aunt recently died of lung cancer after having NEVER smoked, but she did live with a smoker for the first years of her marriage...then he quit. Second-hand smoke is deadly.

My landlady has indicated that there is nothing she can do beyond asking the neighbor to please take it outside or to use an ionizer (which I've read actually isn't beneficial because of the release of ozone into the air). She says that she cannot tell her what to do in her own home...

While things are a bit better this weekend than last, there is still smoke in my apartment, once in awhile, enough to upset me.

I want to poll my readers about a couple of things from your own experience, so would you leave me comments or email me at nanasadieroseATcoxDOTnet?

What air purifiers have you had success with? What costs did you not anticipate? I've been looking at the Whirlpool Whispur 450 specifically...

What, if any, legal issues do you see with smoke invading from another apartment, after years of residence (I've been here more than 5 years...the previous neighbors did not smoke, the landlady knew of my health issues, this is a large complex, and this is a Big Tobacco State - tho' the governor is more amenable to anti-smoking legislation that previous ones have been!).

I've done some preliminary research on the net, but you know, I'm under a time crunch with other things right now. I need to buy an air cleaner/purifier right away, and don't want to make a costly mistake!

All your info will be greatly appreciated...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Autumn in the Mountains...

Taken by a coworker of mine, rebelnva, this shot is from Douthat State Park and shows how glorious it can be in the Blue Ridge in fall...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

You are White Chocolate

You have a strong feminine side with a good bit of innocence thrown in.
Whether your girlish ways are an act or not, men like to take care of you.
You are an understated beauty, and your power is often underestimated!

Really? I suppose that's true...but I prefer to EAT the Dark Chocolate! (Unless of course I'm having a Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha) :)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Very Early Sunday Morning...

It's a lifeline to my friends and family all over the world. And when something goes wrong with it, I'll spend hours, beg more friends for help, and generally suffer intense angst, sturm und drang...until, of course, it's back and functional again.

I do not understand the mindset of the people who create the little problems that can wreak havoc on the delicate electronic wizardry that makes these boxes run. I also have no patience for their "games."

I believe, that once again, Nana Sadie and Knitnana can get back to the business they love: sewing and knitting. Computer geekism isn't what we're good at. But once again, it is enabling a quality post...

Have a wonderful Sunday...I'm headed to bed.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

VERY Fall Friday Night!

I hate to start with "It was a dark and stormy night..." But it was...
The apartment was too warm, so I had the balcony door opened just an inch or so for fresh air. All the girls caught the crispness in the air (it was damp, too, but they try not to notice that). We were having fun with The Meezer's tearstrip (you can see them all on Knitnana). But The Calico Curmudgeon kept going to the door and crying. She is not a vocal kitty, so this was unusual. We're accepting the fact that she's going on to 16 years old, and not in the best of health, so perhaps she'll be heading to the Rainbow Bridge soon (sob!). But on THIS Friday night, there was a hint of the kitten left to see...

She wouldn't leave the door alone, wouldn't stop crying though, as if there really was an urgency that she get outside. I finally shut the door and we went to bed, The Calico reluctantly settling down on her purr pad.

Saturday morning dawned with more gloom, but I went outside to check the tomatoes. There won't be many more of the lovelies. And on the wicker rocker I discovered a red grape tomato with a chunk bitten out. Hmmm....

When did The Calico Curmudgeon become a watch cat? And I just wonder what kind of animal it was that was wanting a midnight snack on my balcony? I'm really glad I didn't try to find out in the dark last night!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

It's Always Serendipity!

Knitnana has been really busy and posted a bunch today, so (I know this sounds as if I have a split personality! lololol!!) I decided it was time to update here...

You know, when I find a fabric that I think will work, I'm usually pretty amazed at the end result of a bag, even when I thought "this will be cool" at the first sighting...

But it's ALWAYS serendipitous when SOMEONE ELSE brings me the fabric (especially when it's one I'm uncertain about...have seen before and dismissed for one reason or another) and it turns out beyond my wildest expectations.

Such is the case with this bag. I believe this is a Daisy Kingdom fabric (and I'm not wild about the quality of their fabrics - they're ok, just not what I prefer). My big sis bought it and sent it to me. She thought it was neat (mainly because she has a couple of her own kitties represented on the cloth! lolol). I was distressed. I knew the print was entirely too big for a Mera bag. I told her so. She still wanted a bag...we discussed. Then she came to visit. She brought her wireless laptop, a host of connection devices, her digital camera and all of IT's cables, etc.

I said, "You know what you need to carry all of this, don't you? A Sadie bag..." "Oh, I don't need that large of a bag..." yada yada...

"I could use your cat fabric" - this I knew was the tease.

"OH. Well, okay."

So here it is. Amazing, huh? I am over the moon with the results. Which just goes to show you, while Nana Sadie Rose has a great eye, she's not alone in this talent!

(I was able to find some interesting stuff for the insides, too!) Let me know if you have an idea for a bag of your own, okay?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My Celtic Horoscope...

You Are A Fir Tree

You love anything beautiful, and you have extraordinary taste.
And while it's hard for you to trust, you care deeply for those close to you.
You are a social butterfly, and you have many friends.
You handle stress well - and you are a master at relaxing after a hard day.
Overall, you are modest, talented, unselfish, and very reliable.

I'll agree with most of this...but "You handle stress well?" Um...yeah, that's why I had a heart attack, right?

Monday, September 25, 2006

What Stirs My Muse?

Melanie was querying her readers on what they do to inspire their creative muses, and it got me to thinking about my own relatively feeble attempts at writing creatively or introspectively: Just what is it that moves me, causes me to 'pick up my pen?'

I try to write every day. I find that even just jotting notes about the events of the day in a journal (even just "it was 74 degrees and humid; new fabrics arrived" types of notes) helps me maintain a routine of writing. I keep a notebook (spiral bound, nothing fancy) for this purpose and I have a lot of them.

My "creative" writing really only takes a couple of forms. I'm not trying to write a novel, for example, tho' I'll admit I've had one bouncing around the edges of my brain for a number of years. It will no doubt stay there...because essentially, I am an essayist.

I've been known to write the occasional piece for our newspaper's commentary section, but those have to be penned when I'm incensed and agitated about a subject. Firey, opinion-swaying language just doesn't seem to flow unless I'm inspired by some injustice. I cannot force myself into "change the world" mode at a moment's notice, and I really do try hard not to raise my blood pressure, so you will not find me earning my living as a op-ed journalist anytime soon!

Mostly though, I try to write my thoughts, jumbled and chaotic as they sometimes are. And I try to do that every day. Discipline, I learned when I was training in ballet, makes a world of difference creatively. Most of what I write is bunk and gets trashed. Sometimes it shows up here (some of it still bunk!). Occasionally something with substance stays on my computer for later.

But I can tell you (and Melanie) that the things I've found that nurture my muse are really rather simple: any creative activity (like knitting or sewing, especially involving fully saturated colors!), moments of meditation and yoga (it used to be walking meditation), physical or emotional pain, a moment's sudden natural beauty (such as a shaft of sunlight through the cloudy, gray gloom or the sight of a male cardinal in the snow), and any feeling of love, be it romantic or not: seeing my grandsons' unfettered delight in something is equally as effective as watching The Meezer chase after her tearstrip with total abandon, or gazing into the eyes of my beloved or hearing his voice on the phone.

Often, I'll step from the sewing machine or my knitting chair to the computer to toss a line or two down, so I can remember it for later. I suspect, if I had less pain in my hands I'd write with a fountain pen in a lovely book. Either way the purpose is to get it down, especially as the older I get the more quickly I forget! The benefit to the computer, too, is the speed at which I can jot my thoughts, as I type much faster than I could ever write.

Then the only other way to get my creative juices flowing is to read: be it blogs or my favorite authors. Seeing what others are thinking about sparks my own thinking. Which makes you, my fellow bloggers, my muse!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Belated Eye Candy - Sunday?

The fading glory of my lovely geraniums from the balcony garden...Sorry to be so late with this...but I am up to my eyeballs in bag orders, so Friday after work was spent searching for and finding coordinating fabrics for all the National Capital Cat Show orders (Thanks, SIL for your - always - wonderful help!)

I'm surprised (and not just a little dismayed) at how long it's taking me to bounce back from the two solid months of preparation for that show. But then I try to remind myself that I had spent at least a month in almost solid preparation for the Star City Cat Show prior to that, as well, so I suppose 3 months of almost non-stop sewing is taking it's toll? lololol...I somehow thought two weeks break would easily make up for it! And I am sewing again, just more slowly...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Finally, My Muse Begins to Return!

Finally, life is calming down and my brain seems to be returning from it's stuporous, exhausted fog. How lucky it was to find this morning, that my bloglines showed my pal Birdsong had updated with another thought-provoking essay, this time on spinning as "the new yoga!" Well, perhaps that's not where she was going and it certainly isn't a direct quote (she says she missed the "knitting is the new yoga" bandwagon), but my dear friend did provide a few reasons as to just why, now, she's decided to try her hand again at spinning (spindling?), and why it looks as if she's going to continue with it. Her last reason, specifically, gave me pause...

"There are great wooden spindles...and there is the challenge of learning the be successful in using them. This keeps my mind alert and ever-learning, and keeps me from aging!"

Hmm....that last sentence: Keeps her mind alert, keeps her from aging - ALWAYS an important issue for me, especially when I also endure the brain-fog of fibromyalgia and SLE.

But spinning? I think I'd love it, and I envy my friends who use both spindles and wheels. I can imagine the hypnotic pull of a spindle in my hands, the soothing whir of the wheel. But in my case, this is an activity I'll have to forego, and it's not just the time involved, or the issue of painful joints holding heavy objects or treddling a wheel, it's also the cost.

I'm always trying to find room in the budget to buy the lovely yarns I'd like to use, and I don't think there's a spare penny for roving, or spindles, or a wheel. There's certainly no room in my apartment for a wheel.

And fortunately, there are a lot of activities that help keep the mind sharp. I think knitting lace qualifies. And lace is certainly my addiction, no question about that. Birdsong says she used to feel that spinning took too much time from her knitting, and since I seldom have the chance to complete even one lace shawl, I still feel that way. I don't want to add another activity - no matter what it is - that will take away from that.

Thankfully, for me, knitting IS my yoga, my meditation, my method for centering myself. Knitting is my dharma, my Way, the Path I follow.

The fiber way offers so many options for finding our niche, for satisfying the need for peace in our lives. Whether you spin, knit, crochet, sew, quilt, or any combination of the many options available, I don't really think it matters.

The brain is challenged to quiet itself as we center on the fiber craft of our choice. We become one with the needles, hooks, and spindles, our eyes focussed on the single stitch or each twist and turn, our breathing slows and deepens unconsiously, the heart rate calms, and time falls away.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Me? NOT a Diva??? DD Would NOT Agree!

You Aren't A Diva

You don't like to cause a fuss or draw attention to yourself.
You're easygoing, and you can even put up with diva behavior from others.
This makes you everyone's favorite trusty companion.
But watch out - it could also make you their favorite doormat.

But it sounds about right to me...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Eye Candy Friday!

A nice shot of one of the two Peaks of Otter - a lovely spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Virginia. We'll be driving along the Blue Ridge today and will see the Peaks at a distance, as we head to the National Capital Cat Show in Chantilly, VA! Hope to see you tomorrow or Sunday - I'll sure have lots of Nana Sadie Rose bags as Eye Candy for you!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Bags, Bags, Bags...

All these months since I started this little business of mine, I've been collecting fabrics. Now of course, I collect all kinds of fabrics...florals, vintage and retro reproductions, dogs, birds, kiddie prints, ethnic prints. But hands down, my favorite fabrics are cat prints. (No surprise, right?) How about a little photo of my stash?
(And no, that's not all of it...just what I can squeeze into this photo! lolol!)

So this couple of months of preparation for the National Capital Cat Show in Chantilly, VA has been a chance to finally make up LOTS of the bags I've just been dreaming about. Fabrics that are out of print (lots of those!), new cat fabrics, those that are realistic, those that are novelty...

I've had a blast. And I've realized that the majority of the fun of this business comes at the end - when the bag is finished and I can see it complete. All the time spent envisioning just what those fabrics and button will look like put together comes together in a crowning moment of "AHA!"

And I LOVE that feeling. I can't EVER completely visualize what the bag will be like. I think it's going to be - fill in the blank - "fun," "stunning," "beautiful," "funky," "cute," "amazing!" But I'm never sure till I have it all together. And it's ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS a surprise!

So this has been a lot of work to prepare for - and I'm not done yet - but it's been one of the most creative and prolific artistic periods of my life! An opportunity for which I'll always be grateful. I really hope I get to see some of you there...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Eye Candy Friday!

When I retire, this is exactly the sort of quilting I want to be doing in my free time!
(and I promise, a real post, soon...)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Eye Candy Friday!

My absolute favorite flower. I never get tired of looking at these, or smelling them. No other color of rose does what these do to me. (sigh)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Eye Candy Friday!

Continuing my wishful thinking...this is the PERFECT eye candy for my Friday! Wish I were location and time (yes, that's a winter snapshot of Nantucket!)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Wistful Thinking...or "If I Could Be Anywhere..."

For all of my adult life, I've loved the New England seacoast. The lighthouses seem a romantic spot, set above the crashing waves, lighting the way to sailors trying to come home to their loved ones. This fabric was such a delight to find! I was so pleased to have someone order it, and I could make you one of them...

It's interesting that for years and years, I could not explain why I hated to be at the "southern beaches" - just was not comfortable baking myself under the sweltering sun. It always made me feel rotten. Give me the Maine coast in Fall, or Nantucket in the winter. Walking the beach in an Aran sweater and jeans. When I learned that I had SLE (Lupus) and that it gets worse with exposure to the sun, I finally realized why the beach and I were only happy together under "inclement" weather. Alice Koller, who went to Nantucket in the winter to find herself in An Unknown Woman, Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Gift from the Sea), and Alix Shulman (Drinking the Rain) write beautifully and eloquently of how the ocean and a deserted beach can help set things right in a woman's mind.

In honor of that, I made the Beachcomber Mera below:

And just for fun, but not available anywhere (as there is no more fabric and this one is sold) Alexander Henry's great bathtub print, the Rubber Duckie Mera - the perfect small-sized baby tote (for when the Maddy is a bit too large!)
Yes, I've been busy. And I suppose, if you add in the work you've seen on Knitnana this week, you can see why I'm wishing for a break on an autumnal, windswept, deserted beach! Hmmm....maybe with this on the needles?

I think the shawl will have to be made in just this same yarn, as it's perfect with the Beachcomber bag above, don't you think?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Eye Candy Friday!

I am delighted with Sundara's idea of posting a photo on Friday of something totally unrelated to knitting that is a thing of lovely wedding cake was a handmade gift from a dear life-time family friend (and teacher to two generations of Nana's family!) for my DD's wedding a year ago last May. The simplicity of the tiers of single layers decorated only with live blossoms in the green and lavender wedding colors was just exquisite!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Work as Catharsis...

My sincere thanks to everyone who emailed and commented on my family's loss this week. What I've learned in the past, has been applied this time as well, and work (which in my case, is craft) is wonderful for helping me move through the grief and pain.

I'm finishing up orders from the Star City Cat Show, and I suppose this is the purrfect occasion to let you all know that "Nana Sadie Rose will be hitting the road once again in September.

I've been invited to participate in the National Capital Cat Show at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA on September 9-10! I'm excited and a bit overwhelmed by this, as it is by far the largest show I've ever attempted. Had I started a bit earlier (when I was first invited!), I might feel a little more in control of the situation, but at that point, I really didn't think it was something I dared to do.

Now, thanks to the encouragement of other vendors who have done both shows (Hi! Pat & Chuck!, Hi! Wendy!), the Star City Cat Show folks, and my own support system - including the aunt I just lost - I've decided I'm going to try it!

This show has a gate of 10,000. No, I'm not going to try to make even half that many bags, as it would be impossible. But we'll have a good amount to sell outright, and of course, I can take orders.

So if you're in the Northern Virginia/Metro DC area the weekend of September 9-10, stop by and see me...I'm told there's free parking at the Expo Center!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Quality of Death...

I'm going to be grieving for a bit. One of Nana Sadie's "Roses," my aunt, died this morning at 6 a.m. She was at home, surrounded by the people and the things she loved. We can all only pray that our lives end in such a manner.

I am grateful for her life, for her influence on me, for her love. I am grateful she is no longer in pain.

I will miss her, far more than she could have known. I pray she'll now join her parents, brothers, and sisters (those who have preceeded her in death), in watching out for all of us, to the extent that they can.

I am praying for her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. I want them to know they are loved by those of us left behind.

Blessed Be.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Quality of Life Part III...

Remember the Eat Local Challenge? In my constant striving towards a high quality of life, today I went to the little balcony garden and found...these!
I was just out there yesterday and only one or two were turning. But we're heading into a week of 90-100 degree temperatures with high humidity - in short - tomato weather! These little globes of sunshine are just the beginning of a nice little crop. These are Sungold grape tomatoes. I also have red ones, just beginning to turn...they'll be ready in a day or two.

THIS is quality of life...there is nothing that tastes better than home grown tomatoes!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Quality of Life Part II...

When I started to write Knitnana back in January 2005, I dedicated one blog post to the women in my mom's generation, her sisters and sisters-in law. I mentioned one photo, one that has gone AWOL in my household, and which I would dearly love to find again, of those amazing women, dressed in the big-shouldered 1940's suits and heels relaxing on a summer porch, some on the railing, others in Adirondack chairs, just home (probably) from church. Perfectly coiffed and looking like a million bucks! They were confident, they were sassy, they were bold.

Tonight, I'm desperately wishing I could find that photo again. Two of those women are gone, my mom and her next younger sister. Another's life is slipping swiftly away, too fast. She's the one I talked about, in that earlier essay, who helped her husband build their own home, and put hundreds of jars of food by every year from the garden. Her country house is surrounded by the daffodils she loves. More and more bulbs planted every year. Inside, the house is decorated in wildflowers (wallpaper, china, paintings, even drawer pulls!), what I'd say was her passion.

Do you ever get to say everything you want to say? I think I was able to when I lost my mom, as I was with her every day for the last three months of her life. When Mom died, this woman, her sister, stepped in and tried to fill the void (an impossible task, but if anyone could have, she could). For two years afterwards, I trekked to Vermont to spend the holidays with her family, taking the train (still my favorite way to travel). She didn't want me to spend the holidays alone and my dear daughter and I were estranged at the time. This aunt and I had much in common that my mom and I didn't - especially sewing, quilting, and other handiwork. She was always exasperating, opinionated, judgemental. But we'd talk for two hours on the phone, easily, on a regular basis, always finding something else to say, so that often her cordless would begin to beep, and she'd say, "Oh before it dies, I want to tell you..." Sometimes she got it all out, more often, not. "No problem!" she'd say, for she knew we'd be at it again soon. The next time, maybe we'd remember where we left off, or maybe not, but it all got said eventually. Often she'd accuse me of needing to "buy stock in the phone company!" But it was as much her fault as mine...we could both talk the other's ear off...

Just a few short months ago, the cough I'd always worried about that she brushed off as "normal in our family" turned out to be the signal of lung cancer I'd occasionally wondered if it might be. She'd never smoked. But so many in that generation did, how could she not have been exposed? The diagnosis was terminal: her decision, no treatment.

Now, the candle flickers in one who was once so sassy and bold. Every one of those gals believed this: it's the quality of life over quantity. None of them want to leave those of us left behind. But they won't linger when the time has come. Not these girls.

God, bless them all.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Quality of Life...

My dear friend, Birdsong, has been faced over the past several months with the sorts of life-crises that make you stop and re-examine the way you live your life, even if you are one who is normally prone to living an "examined life," to misquote Thoreau. But today, her post is a bit more poignant than before, punctuated by the news of the unexpected loss of a family member last week and her children's pleas that she promise them she'll be there for them for a good long while (would that any of us could do this!).

Having come close to losing my own life to heart disease at the young age of 43 (and on the eve of turning 50 years old) I've spent the past 6 years re-examining how I spend the hours remaining to me. The quality of my life is important to me, as I'm sure it is to most of us, tho' we may not make a conscious attempt every day to ensure it. Family, love, craft, and doing work that is worthwhile are what count in my book.

Recently a family member of mine was diagnosed with lung cancer (you'll see the addition of the white ribbon on the sidebar below, in honor of those who struggle with this diagnosis). Like Dana Reeve ("Mrs. Superman," Christopher Reeve's wife), this woman never smoked. The announcement of this diagnosis was a shock, to say the least, as society is so smug to assume that those with this disease somehow "deserve" it for their poor lifestyle choices. (Do not get me wrong, please? I smoked for 28 years. It is a terrible addiction, and one that is difficult to overcome, but no one DESERVES a potentially fatal illness, regardless.)

In the last few months, I've been reminded again of the grace of Dana Reeve as she went about the last months of her life under the death-sentence of terminal lung cancer. I would wish for each of us the ability to move through our last days (if we know they are our last) with such equanimity.

If we don't know they're our last days, can we strive for the same anyway? Birdsong has been challenged by job loss and the redefinition of herself as a successful person. Just the sort of experience I went through when I had my heart attack and by-pass surgery 6 years ago, and lost my job. Birdsong has shown a propensity to grace in the writings on her blog.

Grace under pressure. Grace under fire. For all our angst-ridden thoughts when such crises strike, is it possible to remain detached, to try to view the bigger picture in the midst of chaos?

For me, losing my health and trying to rebuild it, was the catalyst to redefining myself and rediscovering the lost love of craft. (Birdsong never lost it!) I am blessed with an employer that treats their employees fairly, and so, for now at least, am secure in that respect, though in working for a nonprofit, none of us makes a lot of money! lolol

Knitting, sewing, and writing became the creative outlets I craved when I lost part of my sight to Lupus. Both allow introspection, as the needle and my fingers glide over the fabric to create my bags, or the bamboo and yarns combine with my fingers to create lace shawls or socks. Sewing, at least for now, allows me to supplement my smaller income. Blogging has allowed me the venue to write about the changes in my life post-heart attack and post-Lupus...The life I live is one I've built slowly, sometimes falling into the good things, sometimes actively making them happen.

Today, on the 32nd anniversary of the sudden death of my father from a massive heart attack (at the too-young age of 57), I'm remembering that my life, too, will end. And I can't promise anyone that it won't. I'm not ready for it to do so, but I know it will. I try each day to accept that it will be sooner than I want. I try hard to let the people I love know that I love them. I try to say what needs to be said now, not saving it for later, when it may be too late. I pray that I'll know and exhibit the kind of grace at the end of life that I admire so much in women like Dana Reeve, if I'm allowed to know that my end is near. And I hope, when that time comes, that I can still knit. Because it is the one thing, I expect, that will allow the space and have the power to create the state of grace I wish to be in at the end of my life.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Garden Post - End of June 2006

Thought you might like to see the current status of the garden, at least in are a couple of hot peppers. Well there really are 2 but I think you can only see one in the photo.
And here, one of the Grape Tomato plants. I think all four of the plants have little green fruits now. This is a red one, there's another red, and two yellow.
And here you can see what our weekend has been like. Just before this hit, the winds knocked out power, briefly (long enough to knock me offline!) and right after I took this photo, the heavens opened up in a deluge. Fortunately, there wasn't any lightening in this storm. That happened earlier in the weekend and cost me a night of sewing - I don't turn on a Bernina in a thunderstorm!

But the upside of that was that I got in some knitting on my sock that I didn't think I'd get to. My knitting takes a backseat the week or two before a major show as I try (always too hard) to stock up on every imaginable item in intriguing fabrics that Nana Sadie Rose makes. So if I get even a few minutes of knitting in, I feel blessed. Maybe I should hope for more thunderstorms? Um...I think one's brewing right now!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

More Cat Show Bags!

More bags...I'm busy right now preparing for this show! All cat bags, all the time! Here you see the Sophisticats Kerri on the right, Ode to Cats Mera in the middle, and Two of My Favorite Things (Cats & Books) Mera on the left...Don't forget, if you're in the area, it July 1 and 2 and the Roanoke Civic Center Exhibition Hall.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Star City Cat Show Bags in Process!

Coming up (always a lot faster than I want it to!) the Star City Cat Show! July 1-2 at the Roanoke Civic Center Exhibition Hall and your's truly, Nana Sadie Rose, will be there with every conceivable cat bag, knitting accessories, and fabrics to create more - just in case you don't see a ready-made one to your liking!
I wanted to give you a sample of the Sadie Bag I've just finished...a nice solid for those who like to be more conservative in their bag styles...
But on the INSIDE? Well, just let your imagination run wild! lolol
I'll just show you HERE the main interior fabric I used...
Come see me? I'll be there for both days of the show! And if Roanoke is a bit off the beaten path for you, just visit my website (the button is over there) ---->

Friday, June 09, 2006

Balcony Garden Photos!'s been a couple of weeks, and things are beginning to look better in some respects...and worse in others! These are the yellow "grape" tomatoes and the basil (only 2 survived) with the parsley - and hanging above one poblano pepper.
Over here are the two red grape tomatoes, the catnip, the lemon balm, the anaheim pepper, a cilantro and I think there's a piece of the chives there, too.'ll see that there are now geraniums in the planter? Well, I was amazed to see the worst case of green worms that devoured my radishes down to the stems - in a little over a day! They ate a lot...and left me not a one. {sob}

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Updated Sunny Saturday...

Ok...things do improve - and once again, it's craft that makes the world of difference in my world! Jog on over to KnitNana and you'll see what I did today...3 new Nana Sadie Rose bags in three sizes.

What makes the difference? Well, in my mind, it's centering my thoughts and breath and efforts on something outside myself, something creative: seeing colors combine, feeling textures, watching patterns coordinate. Even a bag that I've made many times, the Kitty City bag, constantly amazes me that just a tweaking of different interior fabrics makes an entirely different look.

So thank goodness, tonight is better! Yes, I still hurt, and there were times that the struggle to work in tight spaces makes me wonder why I do it (the little Pretty Pooches is a challenge when my hands are bothering...). But then I finish the bag. And that's ALL the answer I need! How cute! What a darling item for a little girl (and this one IS for a little girl).

What a difference a few hours can make!

It's a Sunny Saturday...67 Degrees, So Why Am I a Grinch?

I think I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. It's a lovely day. I have great music on the CD player. I have the day off. But right now, I feel as if it could be raining and 40 degrees, cold and damp. I'm aching, my hands are spasming into claws. Not a good day for this Lupie Gal.

Doesn't make a lot of sense when the mood doesn't lift for the basic good things, because the basic bad things are overwhelming...but counting my blessings usually helps so here goes:

I have a wonderful job, two home-based businesses I love, good friends, close family, kitties and grandsons who adore me. I have a stash of yarn and needles and patterns to make whatever I'd like, a roof over my head and food in the larder...appropriate medical care. Most of all, a man I love who loves me. Great, good blessings, all.

Okay. I'm working on it. Maybe the day will get better (I've already broken a glass cooking pot b/c my "claws" wouldn't hold it)...there is much kitty fur to vacuum, simple cleaning to get done, then bags to finish, a show to prepare for.

When there is a sense of foreboding in my life without cause, when I'm hurting too much to do basic things, this photo, given me by a co-worker, one we lost almost two years ago to cancer and is deeply missed by all of us, reminds me that there is courage to be found in looking up. In trusting in a power higher than where I am. In letting that power take the reins for a change. In letting go...

Thank you, Gordy, I miss your kind, softspoken wisdom. I miss you.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

If It's Worth Doing, It's Worth Doing Well...

I know you've heard this...I was raised with it. Along with the corollary: Idle hands are the Devil's workshop.

So we had to be doing something always, and if we were going to do something we had to do it well...Somewhere along the line that created the Perfectionist with a capital "P" that I am today.

Well, I'm trying to slack off a bit, now that the people who raised me are gone. So then Kat reminded me that gardens start out looking a little sad in response to my last post (you DID notice my perfectionism down there, didn't you?). I've tried to lower my sights a bit to realize that on my balcony, I will not have scads of tomatoes or any other vegetable, there just aren't "perfect" growing conditions out there...but I can tell you that at present the lemon balm and the catnip are going great guns! And I guess that means that I can relax a bit over the garden at least...there'll be plenty of that for tea (and for the kitties!). Over on my other blog I've been showing folks photos of my (finally!) completed Highland Triangle Shawl, and gearing up for a summer of Amazing Lace and Summer Reading. I strive for perfection in all I do, but I'm not going to tell you where the "flaws" are in HTS (you can't see them in the photos or when I'm wearing it, but like the Hopi Indians I know I allowed the spirit room to fly free), and I've already acknowledged that I can read much less than I used to thanks to my vision, so my booklist for the summer is brief compared to years past.

I'm a joiner. I'm a doer. I have to be constantly in motion...there's not enough time, so I have to cram more in. Heart disease and Lupus have taught me that time is finite. Sleep is something I do because my body insists upon it, not because my mind is willing to stop for even a second. Because there is SO MUCH in this life I want to try, to savor, to accomplish. So many bags to make and see the color and fabric combinations come alive that I haven't even imagined yet; so many shawls to knit in patterns my fingers haven't learned yet and with glorious yarns of unbelievable softness and vibrancy; so many books to read with word pictures that writers far better than I haven't set to paper yet; so many recipes to try exploding with untried flavors; so much love to experience that hasn't touched my heart yet.

All kinds of love: for my man, for grandchildren, for family and friends, for feline companions, for pasttimes, for passions.

Wow. I'm not a perfectionist? I want to do it all, to the very best of my ability. And that's the only definition of perfection that matters.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Balcony Garden continued...

I think they look a little sad, and I sure hope they survive transplanting...we've had such cool, gray, damp weather, I didn't dare try them outside till today (you're missing the tomato plant that's hanging up above...I didn't realize how bad this shot was). We're due for more cool, rainy stuff beginning everything may rot. ;(

This is the planter that will rotate lettuces and mesclun mix from seed - right now it's mostly radishes and that clump of chives there. I'll add in whatever else I can think of later...

All total there are two red grape tomato plants, two Sungold yellow cherry tomato plants, an Anaheim pepper, a Poblano pepper, 4 basil plants, parsley, chives, thyme, cilantro, catnip, lemon balm, and geraniums. No. I don't eat geraniums. ;)

Left on my kitchen windowsill is a lovely rosemary plant. It's doing so well there, and I use it so much, I decided to pot it inside. This is my attempt at eating at least some salads locally for the Eat Local Challenge. I sure hope everything perks up. And I've put tomato cages on my list...poor babies need help!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Just the Beginning!

Here is just the start of the balcony garden I spoke about yesterday...there are two Tami-G hybrid grape tomatoes, 3 sweet basils, a rosemary, and 2 little common geraniums in hot pink (yes, I usually do red, but I loved these, and I think with a couple of white ones or then a red or two mixed in they'll make a lovely pot!). I'll plant the salad seeds today, and some radishes...whatever else I can think of that will survive the dipping of temperatures we're to get tomorrow...

Then also today I'm off to the Salem Farmer's Market - I realized that the traffic and parking issues on Roanoke's Farmer's Market with today being the Strawberry Festival and Chili Cook-off, would just be more wasted fuel (not to mention a headache!). At our present $2.63 a gallon I'll try to conserve that as well on this Eat Local Challenge. I also learned that the strawberries for the festival came from California - what part of LOCAL does that not fit??? lolol. Strawberries will be ripe around here soon, so, I'll keep my eyes open and go for a "pick your own" day with my dear SIL! And in the meantime, I'll work on making room in my little freezer for the spoils of that excursion...

(I promise more photos as they arrive)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Eat Local Challenge

My two best, on-line buds, Birdsong and Jane have been giving me much "food for thought" over the past few weeks. I don't think Jane would mind my telling you (if you don't already know from reading her blog) that she is probably the Queen of Thrift (my mom was a darn close second...) and Birdsong is involved in the Eat Local Challenge and has provided a thoughtful discussion of her plans in participating over on her blog, so go check that out...go on, I'll wait...

Now that you're back, I'll tell you that I'm hoping to be approved to participate in this and what my plans are: I used to be a vegetarian (ok, a Pesca-Vegetarian, which means I ate fish, too) and I know I was healthier, tho' I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian, so dairy and eggs were part of my diet. For health reasons, I've been considering removing the dairy and eggs and returning to a vegetarian - I guess now an almost vegan - diet. "Almost," because I don't think I'll give up my fish. I've become a consumer of soy products (which I will exempt in my eat local challenge as I don't know of a single soy milk producer anywhere near me, and I am committed to Silk products). Other exemptions I'll make will be for coffee & tea, chocolate, whole grain pastas and rice, and salmon & tuna (my fish of choice). The margarine I use to help in lowering my cholesterol will also have to be exempted, as I will continue to do everything I can to promote my heart health, as a heart attack survivor! I may have to make other exemptions as I get into this...I'm just in the earliest of thinking on this! :)

The idea of thinking where my food comes from, and the quality of it, isn't so foreign to me...I once participated in an email message group called Positive Futures in affiliation with the magazine Yes! and there was considerable discussion of the topic then. Then, too, I come from a long line of vegetarians who grew and put by their own food. My dad always had a Victory Garden when I was growing up and I guess I got something from his genes, because I adore gardening. I now have only my little apartment balcony in which to grow a bit of salad, but I will be exploring how I can optimize that small space to add as much home-grown produce to my diet this summer as possible.

I'll also be exploring what is available on my two local Farmers Markets and at farm stands nearby, as well as farms that open up for "pick your own." A small, refrigerator-top freezer is all the space I have, but I suspect it can be better-used than it has been. And I'll do my best to utilize my local natural foods coop and local bakeries (for bread!).

Sometimes I think it's easy for us to become especially complacent about the daily choices that we make - in an almost mindless way - so this challenge is one that I welcome, if only to make me stop, zenlike, and look mindfully at the food I choose to consume and the distance it travels and whether it supports local producers.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Abundance Thinking

I'm on a roll here, thinking authentically, examining my constantly over-"examined life" (thank you, Thoreau!). That craft helps me in my quest is a given. But while examining the construct of my days, determining whether or not I can acknowledge an "authentic life," I can't help but wonder if the idea of "thinking abundantly" does anyone any good?

There've been lots of essays and books on the concept. If we start to consider, even when a serious lack might be present in our current lives, what we do have, and be grateful for it, does more good "stuff" come our way?

I have a quote on my office wall...I do not know who said it, it was sent to me through email at a particularly difficult period in my life - it spoke to me then, and still does: "When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change..."

Changing the mindset of "have-not" to one of appreciating the wealth in our lives (and I'm not talking just monetary wealth, here) just may make things change around for the better. And if it doesn't, what has one lost? If I spend my hours happy that I have what I do, that I enjoy the people and activities of my day, rather than grousing about how unfair life is, or what I'm missing out on, isn't the real quality of my day affected?

Of course, it is. Does it bring more good stuff my way? Well, there's probably no way to know this unequivocably. Because once things happen, they can't be undone to be redone under a different perspective...time marches on and you can't replicate that specific experiment. But I know that when I put a positive slant on things, the negatives don't seem to hurt as badly as they do when I'm in a bad mood. Those bad moods and negative attitudes just seem to make EVERYTHING worse! I think it works along with the old saw "smile and the world smiles with you..."

Friday, April 28, 2006

Sadie's Place continued...

I'm in a dreamy, reflective mood tonight, not so "turbo-charged" as I usually am! So I thought I'd share one of my favorite spots with you...A special place in my sunny kitchen, the colors of Nana Sadie Rose are the soft jadite greens and pinks from the Depression Era. Since it's hard for you to just drop in and visit, this way you can get a sense of what it's like! (Do you think those vintage pink aluminum needles are better suited to this spot than the Addi Turbos? lolol)
Collections abound here, especially anything with roses, flowers, or cats (ok, I know, that's a chicken...a gift from dear SIL many years ago, but floral still! The pinks and browns are right in fashion now! I love my chicken! And she does fit in my kitchen, dontcha think?)
When you visit Nana Sadie's Place, tea is at the ready...from vintage rose teacups we'll sip Earl Gray and learn what fabrics and styles of bag you'd like for your very own! Or perhaps just sip, listen to Mozart and knit?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Turbo-charged ? Me ?

You are "turbo" charged.
Fast moving and classy, you get things done with power and grace. Your expensive tastes can be deceiving, since what you really value is quality and efficiency. As you're careening around those corners in life, finishing a dozen knitted objects each month, stop and smell the roses. Don't miss the beauty of process!
QuizillaWhat Kind of Knitting Needle Are You?

Well, ok. True, I move fast, I value quality and efficiency, and I need to stop and smell the roses (!) far more often than I do. But while I own a Bernina for my sewing (and it's not a top of the line machine, but it's a very, very good one), I don't own a single pair of Addi Turbos for knitting! Addi Naturas, yes. Love them. Maybe I should make the Turbos my next purchase? But I just ordered 3 new SB Quicksilvers, so maybe not. With my SLE, keeping the yarn on the needles is more important than speed! And I'm far more likely to have sewn a dozen or more items in a month than knit them! Nana Sadie Rose keeps me very busy on that Bernina, which leaves my Addi Naturas sitting much of the time.

For me it's really all about the best quality for the lowest cost...especially these days...So what do you do to ensure quality but do it in a frugal way? Or do you care about frugality? Is it the best or nothing? Or, quantity over quality, because the compulsion to craft is the whole point? I challenge you to think this one over as it relates to your crafting life.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Yarn Meditation

“So I’m forced to suspend time. To work outside of time. To forget that time exists. On a subconscious level I have to believe that I have all the time in the world, or I wouldn’t be able to begin. And something happens when I entertain that fallacy. Time, which is fractal, stretches out, and I begin to experience eternity. There is something about that spacious expansion into endless time that promotes the growth of large-scale thinking, that enables one to rise above the petty stresses of everyday life. Viewed from a certain perspective, time is the only real luxury we have.”

Dear Susan Gordon Lydon. How I shall miss her. This quote from her The Knitting Sutra’s introduction perfectly expresses what I feel when I knit lace, puts poetry to the claim I’ve made that knitting lace is my meditation.

When you can finally sit down, quietly, with perhaps only Mozart on the CD player and a cup of Earl Gray tea nearby, a not-so-patient Siamese watching the strand of yarn emerging from the ball, when you can finally focus on the lace, time does indeed “stretch out” or in my mind, time shifts. It’s as though I’ve entered another dimension, where time slows to the barest crawl. Time becomes the K2tog’s, the yo’s, the ssk’s, the sl1k1psso’s. As the lace emerges from my fingers, frenetic motion within and without disappears. Calm descends. In such a space, complex problems can be seen clearly, decisions reached unemotionally. Large-scale thinking is indeed promoted. The deep breathing of peace begins.

Blessed be.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Why Craft?

I’ve always been proud of the fact that I can create something lovely with my hands, whether it’s through counted cross-stitch, sewing or knitting. Many people do not have the ability, interest, or inclination to use their hands to create. I come from a long line of women who knew how to use their hands to make beautiful things as they had little beauty in their lives courtesy of economic challenges beyond their control. They might not have always enjoyed crafting (my mom hated to sew, for example) but they knew how, and they used those skills to make their lives better.

I take great pride in the hand-sewn products I create, but I make sure that they are of the highest quality possible in order to justify that pride.

I struggled for a long time to find my purpose in life, and finally realized that while I do honorable work for a just cause as an accountant for a nonprofit organization, my purpose in life is to create beautiful and useful objects. The two descriptors are key – the objects I make must serve both criteria. You’ll seldom see frou-frou in my work.

When I receive the compliments from Nana Sadie Rose’s customers telling me how impressed they are with the quality of my workmanship and with the practicality of the designs, I know a kind of pride that I could never have imagined before. My sense of purpose is fulfilled.

I don’t usually knit as a part of Nana Sadie Rose. But when I knit in public, I usually end up laughing out loud when someone comes up to me saying..."I wish I could must be a very patient person." Well, no, I’m not. When you learn to knit you need persistence more than patience. When you have a big project (whether it is repetitive or challenging) you need persistence - the sheer determination to understand, master, and muddle through. Persistence.

Patience isn't the most important part of knitting, except that knitting certainly helps me learn to be patient, or at least helps me get through times that demand patience. I knit garter stitch dishcloths and scarves to get through long wait times – at doctors’ offices, craft shows, in airports, on commuter trains (ok, not the last two for some time now, but I have done so in my lifetime). I knit challenging things to get me past periods when I want to move the world around to my way of thinking or doing, and the world lets me know it’s just going to move at its own sweet pace no matter what I want. Those challenging projects make my mind stop obsessing over what I cannot by the sheer force of will make happen. They force me to focus on something else, even if it’s tinking back to correct my mistakes because I’ve let my mind wander. Knitting makes me appear patient to the rest of the world, when I want to grab the world by the scruff of the neck and shake it around to my way of thinking. Knitting makes me slow down and breathe. Knitting brings me peace.

Sewing does much the same, though not by the rhythm of the needles clicking together. Making my Nana Sadie Rose creations brings my design capabilities into play with the color and pattern of quilting fabrics. Sewing is more visual. Knitting is textural.

Years ago, studying ethics in education and business, I came upon a book that in a very simple, straightforward manner, just blew me away. Kenneth Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale co-wrote The Power of Ethical Management in which the authors created the concept of the Five P’s of Ethical Power: Pride, purpose, patience, persistence, and perspective. While I can’t draw it here, the first four on that list rotate around the last. Perspective is the hub of the wheel around which the other four turn…perspective enables you to practice the others – they all work together in our lives, as a wheel works to move an object forward.

I am constantly impressed by how often these 5 P’s crop up in my thinking since that book first dropped into my life. I was reminded of it, again, when I read Ruinwen’s two recent discussions of turning her life towards her desire to become a knitting designer. Ruinwen was talking about not having patience and not being good at knowing how to wait. She hates to wait. In one post she says: “Last week I talked about paring down my life and finding out what is real and authentic to my personal self. I’ve decided that trying to do that in a season of growth and renewal is probably not good timing.” And in the very next post she says she’s going to go with the longing in her soul to become a knitting designer. What she may not realize yet is that by focusing on her dream, the extraneous in her life will fall's a natural by-product of the process of reaching for the thing that matters most to us!

Who’s waiting? Not Ruinwen. She’s honoring the voice inside her that tells her that her authentic self must craft. She is drawn to it as nothing else. It will become her purpose, her pride, she will be persistent in her endeavors, they will help her develop patience and perspective. (And, by the way, she’s going to be a terrific designer you mark my words!)

So why do I craft? To develop perspective on an often insane world; to create something of lasting beauty and function; to watch pattern, texture, and color develop from a ball (or balls) of yarn and from pieces of fabric; and to move through the day, the week, the months with a modicum of sanity. But it’s certainly not because I’m an inherently patient person! Though I’m learning!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Yarn Focus Challenge - Voluntary Simplicity...

I’ve just committed to something called the Yarn Focus Challenge. It’s a simple idea. The button for participating is in the sidebar over there. ---> It’s not the same thing as a yarn diet. As diets don’t usually work, the Yarn Focus Challenge attempts to increase awareness of the activity of indiscriminately purchasing yarn (I could add fabric in here, too!). It’s related to the philosophy of voluntary simplicity, which is not about poverty, but instead about bringing balance into our lives. Living intentionally. Being aware of what you do that works in your life and those things that don’t. Living lightly on the earth, living ecologically.

Earlier this month, I wrote about living an authentic life, in response to my dear “sis” Birdsong’s query on her blog. This post attempts to further define my idea of authenticity in my own life.

Duane Elgin is the “father” of the voluntary simplicity movement, and his book Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich is one that has graced my bookshelf and gotten much use over the years.

Early in the book, he states: “To live more voluntarily is to live more deliberately, intentionally, and purposefully – in short, it is to live more consciously…To live more simply is to live more purposefully and with a minimum of needless distraction. The particular expression of simplicity is a personal matter. We each know where our lives are unnecessarily complicated. We are all painfully aware of the clutter and pretense that weigh upon us and make our passage through the world more cumbersome and awkward. To live more simply is to unburden ourselves…to establish a more direct, unpretentious, and unencumbered relationship with all aspects of our lives: the things we consume, the work that we do, our relationships with others, our connections with nature and the cosmos, and more (pp. 24-25).”

My world routinely spins out of control…I can almost predict it, but not quite. Once I’ve been reeling for a couple of weeks, I suddenly think – OH! I’m doing it again…I’m losing focus, forgetting the things that work to make me feel more peaceful, more in control. And I can guarantee that it’s at these times that I buy things I do not need – yarn, fabric, magazines, books. It’s always a jolt when I bring myself up short and think “Knee-jerk reactions, not thinking, not focusing!”

This is what the Yarn Focus Challenge is about for me. This activity isn’t about NOT BUYING YARN. I can buy it if I really want it, if I feel there’s a project worth spending my time on for the use of it. But the Focus aspect of the Challenge is about the intellectual activity of not buying willy-nilly (I see it-it’s pretty-I want it-I buy it). It’s about living with intentionality. On the Yarn Focus Challenge, we step back and say…I can only buy yarn on ONE day this month. Is THIS the day? Do I really need THIS yarn, or do I have other yarn I want to buy, what are my plans for this yarn, is it really something I want or need? Will my planned purchase have to wait because I made this purchase (because the goal IS planned purchasing)?

There are a couple of concepts that seem, in my mind, to blend with this philosophy, too: the idea of delayed gratification. We tend to be a society to think that we deserve to have things right now. So with any purchase, if we want it, we get it. Credit makes that easy, but it’s not always the healthy thing to do, financially. And often, it’s a “quick fix” for our emotional ups and downs, I feel better when I buy, but then I’m back buying again because I’m not feeling up to snuff!

The other idea has to do with the sheer volume of STUFF we have: I get worked up whenever I drive by the storage facilities that have cropped up all over…thinking "that's just what we need – a place, out of sight, out of mind, for us to store all our stuff." How can anyone remember what they have when it's out of sight? Why would I rent space to store stuff if it isn’t necessary enough for me to keep under the same roof with me? Needless to say, storing excess stuff at a remote location redefines the concept of living lightly on the land, of keeping our “ecological footprints” small.

It’s a case of knowing when you have “enough.” Do you know what your personal definition of “enough” is? Because we're each individuals, the definition is different for each of us.

When I think about voluntary simplicity, and especially since I have a pretty good idea of what my personal “enough” is, I usually think of “things” – the “stuff” that I have too much of: yarn, fabric, magazines, clothes. But voluntary simplicity can have a lot to do with your relationships, with the manner in which you spend your time (do you spend your time as frivolously as you do your cash?), with the work you chose to do. Those areas are too broad for me to address here. But if you’re interested in the subject just spend a few minutes googling on Voluntary Simplicity. You’ll find a lot out there.

It’s spring, and spring cleaning thoughts abound right now. For me, the Yarn Focus Challenge is a time of spring cleaning, an opportunity to redefine how much is “enough” for me, and yet another occasion for me to step back and say, “breathe deeply, and think…does this work with my personal philosophy?”

Friday, April 07, 2006

Reprise - An Authentic Life?

I keep re-reading the post below and thinking that not only is my depression from last week very obvious (tho' Jane assures me it's not) but that perhaps a cynicism that I really don't feel is apparent there.

So I thought, perhaps I should revisit this post and try to convey a bit more of my thinking on what is now my authentic life? (You be sure and leave me a comment - even if it's, wish you'd left well-enough alone and would move ON!)

Since this is a slightly more sane moment for me, let me tell you that I'm usually not afraid for myself economically. I can support myself (of course, I may be doing this into my 90s if someone will let me work for them, or will pay for my crafts, and I'm still alive and kicking by then!) and have for many years. If I'm living more paycheck-to-paycheck than I would prefer, I suppose I could consider giving up some of my "luxuries" but yarn and fabric, kitty food and vet bills, not to mention cable internet connection and cell phone are pretty necessary to how I live my life, and these are about the only places I can see to cut corners...since health care and rising fuel costs take an ever-increasing bite out of our paychecks these days.

My health is generally pretty good, tho' I do have that tachycardia when upset. But I know how to deal with it, as unpleasant as it is. However, it does cost quite a bit to maintain my health, now that I'm approaching my 50th birthday, with heart disease and SLE in my medical records. I'm grateful I can manage that most of the time.

I'm the idealist I've always been, believing that we are the caretakers of our society, and we have to voice concern when we see something happening (politically, socially) that goes against our beliefs. I take issue with people assuming they know where I stand (few do, and I'll not discuss it on my blogs). I'm more conservative than many, more liberal than a few. I come from strong Socialist stock (turn of the century grandparents - the 1900s, not the 2000s!) and have a strong Business Management background, but see flaws in the thinking on both sides there, so don't use that information to classify me, either! ;)

I have a long list of "shoulds" that will never be seen where our political environment is concerned (at least not in my lifetime). I'm not a fence-sitter ideologically. My representatives know whether or not they can count on my vote at re-election time.

But I put my energies in very specific places these days. Which I guess is why I wanted to address the issue of an authentic life once again.

You see, I think I do live a truly authentic life. I think the above tells you that, stating that my politics is personal - period. I don't like to publically air it, unlike what you find on a lot of blogs today...

What matters to me most are pretty simple things: ensuring the success of my business in an attempt to secure my financial future, being a nana to two boys with a third grandchild on the way, caring for the pets I adopted till the end of their natural days (two of whom are nearing the time to cross the Rainbow Bridge), nurturing a long-term relationship with a man I've loved for many, many years, being a good friend and family member, and being a good employee in an organization with values I support.

If my apartment is a tad untidy, my yarn and fabric stash a bit over-the-top, my bank account smaller than I'd like, so be it. In my authentic life it is the term "relationships" that is key.

Friday, March 31, 2006

An Authentic Life?

"Are you trying to live your version of an authentic life, or have you thrown up your hands, daunted by the demands of daily life? Talk to me."

Interesting question, posed yesterday, by my dear “sis” Birdsong! I am trying hard not to throw up my hands today. I’m truly “daunted by the demands of daily life.” With life constantly careening off at the speed of light, it’s hard to find the time I need to be introspective enough to live my version of an authentic life. And it’s been a rough week. So here are my thoughts on your question, dear Birdsong. I hope they're a worthy reply...

Once I practiced yoga and meditation, was an ethical vegetarian, lived where I could grow a few herbs and vegies, tho’ not nearly at the level of self-sufficiency I’ve dreamed about. I was politically active.

Now? If I can find time to knit, I consider I’ve meditated. Knitting lace is best for that. I still do a bit of yoga, tho’ not enough. I’m no longer a vegetarian of any sort, tho’ I probably should be! Politically, I still vote, and I write the occasional letter to my representatives.

Birdsong’s use of the de Beauvoir quote is terribly appropriate for her. In another lifetime, I’d have agreed with that quote. Today I no longer do. I can no longer afford to live so deeply rooted in society and maintain my physical health. I try now not to get angry about things I perceive I have limited control over. Tachycardia is an unpleasant side-effect of having had a heart attack and by-pass surgery. It feels as if your heart will leap out of your chest, it is banging about so hard. Angry/frustrated/frightened = Tachycardia for me.

I do not like many things I see in our world today. I question much of what appears in the news. I am easily angered. I am easily aroused to a level of frustration that is unhealthy for me. I live at a precarious economic level. I am often frightened about the future, at a very basic level of survival. When I see the least of society being threatened at this same basic level, my pulse races, my heart pounds in my chest – I can empathize so clearly. So I work for a non-profit social service organization in an attempt to make a difference. I hope we do.

And I try to maintain a fragile state of calm. Sometimes it boils down to something as basic as telling myself to remember to breathe...I even have a sign on my desk to remind me.

I am currently on a news fast. I stopped watching the 24-hour news channels after September 11, 2001. I try to control my exposure to negativity as much as possible, and I try to avoid the feeling of “on the edge hysteria” the news channels offer on a daily basis, about practically everything, not just events that truly qualify for hysteria. I listen to NPR, for the 20 minute commute each way on most days. I do not take a newspaper, nor do I read news blogs/websites.

The choice I’ve made is clear: I am determined to stay alive. Authentic life or not, I am determined to survive, to be here for my grandchildren. Because of my health issues, I have had to compromise on the things I allow to affect my emotions. Because of my economic issues, I work very hard at my job and my part-time businesses. Fortunately, I love my work. But ethically, it's a sad place for me to be. I feel that I've lost some of my power and that I’m selling out my values and my political beliefs by making this choice. Life seldom gives us easy choices, so I try not to agonize over it. So be it.

And thank God for the Birdsongs of the world.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Springtime in Virginia!

Can you believe this is the same tree from the post just a month ago?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Born Too Late!

(photo courtesy of Hancock-Paducah Fabrics)

I simply should have been here years and years ago...I was born too late for the Victorian era, but somehow I know that should have been my life.

I've just ordered fabrics from the photo you see here. All lace and roses, ivories, pinks, burgundies, greens, blacks, golds. The colors of a Queen Anne-style drawing room, of Nana Sadie Rose.

Why is it I feel a time warp when I see rose-strewn wallpaper? Why do I go weak in the knees over a nosegay of white roses and lavender? Knitted lace shawls, antimacassars, cut-work tablecloths, fine rose-etched crystal, bone china and marble-topped mahogany furniture. I was not raised with these things.

But when I was a very small child, there was an older lady who lived a few doors down the street from my parents' house. When I could not yet talk, I nonetheless toddled repeatedly to her house to visit. Her name was Lena and her home was filled with these fine things. How did I know? What drew me there? (Questions my mother could never answer...and don't think she didn't try!)

But as surely as I found my way to Lena's home, I have loved these things for all of my life...and now when I receive a notice from one of my suppliers that these fabrics are available, I once again go weak in the knees, and I just have to buy...

Just wait till you see the bags!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Lace for an Elegant Evening of Music

  Here, finally, is my beautiful Queen of Hearts lace shawl, she of the broken, yet mended hearts. I was ready to leave for a wonderful concert at the National Symphony Orchestra with Midori as soloist for the evening. A delightful evening, filled with the fun of new, young friends, and those of us older, my sisters, my self, my BIL. Exquisite peasant food at the Kennedy Center for dinner, fine wine, laughter, then wondrous music. And the most comforting thing, was pulling Queen of Hearts around my shoulders and feeling elegant! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Knitters Make the Best Friends!

I've just returned from my knitting group this evening. We meet only once a month, tho' most of us wish we could increase those meetings, we usually just can't find the time.

But once again, as I do on an almost daily basis, I am impressed by the quality of the friendships we knitters have with each other. You can't forget that you had a problem with something, because you'll be reminded that "we were going to work on that this time" and then you can just sit down, because work on it you will ... this time, for me, it was short rows on socks and my teacher was Rae. Still not sure I've got it, as I'd forgotten my own practice yarn, but I know I'll have another chance to sit with Rae and learn again.

We'd only just ended that particular session when a cell phone went off - MINE! And The Man From My Past, Present, & Future - he on a lonely stretch of road driving into the night on a customer call...Off I went, outside into the high winds, as a front pushes through our region tonight - temperatures dropping 40 degrees over night, so that the wind had a bite to it. Twenty minutes later, pink-cheeked, and not just from the wind, I returned to much good-natured ribbing. These ladies are as delighted as I am by the current state of my romantic affairs, I do believe!

It's the same with my on-line knitting buddies. We support, encourage, teach each other through trials and struggles and triumphs. An e-card now takes the place of the hot dish we might bring by if we lived next door. I've never had a next door neighbor to sit with and knit. The last time I did something similar, I was a teen learning to use makeup with my best friend India who lived in the house behind mine, laughing and singing to the radio. We were just as obsessed with our pots and potions of color and scent, with the Beatles, as my friends now are obsessed with needles, yarn, and spinning wheels.

Is it any wonder that women turned the internet into the proverbial backfence? We lean across and compare notes. We nurture our friendships online the way we used to nurture our neighborhoods, when we truly had front porches.

All my girlfriends - almost all of them knitters - save my sanity every single day!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Snowy Day

I didn't take this photo during today's snow, we didn't have this much. This was a shot from a couple of weeks ago, a lovely snowy scene from the front of my apartment building. This is the kind of winter scene I just love! Posted by Picasa